accusative and ergative languages

Larry Trask larryt at
Tue Aug 3 13:13:57 UTC 1999

On Thu, 29 Jul 1999, Patrick C. Ryan wrote:

> Well, 'anaphora' is primarily a rhetorical device;

No.  It's a grammatical phenomenon, or, at most, a semantico-grammatical
phenomenon.  Like most linguistic features, it can probably be used
rhetorically, but it is not essentially rhetorical in nature.

In fact, probably no linguistic object, structure or relationship is
intrinsically rhetorical in nature.  `Rhetoric' is a functional concept,
not a structural one.

> my dictionary, however, does acknowledge the use of 'anaphora' in a
> grammatical sense although Larry seems to prefer "anaphor" in the
> grammatical and, I presume (but do not know), 'anaphora' in the
> rhetorical sense.

No.  My dictionary cites `anaphora' only as the abstract noun derived
from `anaphor'.  Anaphora is the relation between an anaphor and its
antecedent, or, more generally, the use of anaphors.

> Since "discourse cohesion strategy" is not defined in Larry's dictionary,

That's because it's not a grammatical term, and mine is a dictionary of
grammatical terms.

> I have no idea exactly how one will want to define it. Perhaps
> 'anaphors' are excluded; perhaps not.

I think anybody who works on cohesion would include anaphora as a major
cohesive device.

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

larryt at

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